For Louis Proyect it is mostly about Antifa. He reposts a piece by Leighton Woodhouse entitled The Ugly Side of Antifa. The lede paragraph reads:
Yesterday, at the anti-Alt-Right rally in Berkeley, I watched groups of masked Antifa members in Black Bloc formation swarm individuals who were apparently antagonizing them, and pummel them with their fists, feet, and flagpoles. When the victims tried to escape, they were run down, and in at least one case, cut off by the Antifa mob and beaten down some more. In the incidents I witnessed, about 5 or 6 Antifa members at a time participated in the attacks, while perhaps 100 others stood behind them, forming an impenetrable wall that blocked bystanders from intervening, or documenting the violence on camera. Those people would also help chase the victims when they fled.Mr. Proyect files it under the label black bloc idiots.
In another piece of his own, Mr. Proyect puts Antifa in perspective.
With strikes being undermined for the past twenty years, a trade union resisting the bosses is something that the left should get behind. Maybe we should put punching fascists on the back burner for a while and spend more time punching a corporation like Time-Warner instead, the corporation that owns Spectrum Cable, the ever-so-progressive HBO, and CNN, the 24/7 enemy of Trumpism. After all it is capitalism that is the enemy, not just fascism.The reference to the president reflects Mr. Proyect's objection to the media making everything about Trump. Indeed, Mr. Proyect is the only one of my correspondents who doesn't put Donald J. Trump on center stage. Though maybe Mr. Proyect goes too far with this--expecting the world to ignore Trump is not a likely outcome.
Socialist Action (SA), meanwhile, has Trump on the brain--the whole Charlottesville episode is nothing more than a window into his soul. And there one sees racists, Nazis, White supremacists, etc., though they do finally admit that "...Trump is not a fascist,..."
Though if you believe SA, his spokesmen are all fascists.
David Duke, apparently irritated by Trump’s mild rebuke, tweeted, “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”
But other rightists took Trump’s statement as a victory. “Did Trump just denounce anti-fa?” tweeted Richard Spencer, using a term used to describe anti-fascist protesters. And the Nazi Daily Stormer wrote gleefully that Trump had “outright refused to disavow” the fascists. “He didn’t attack us. … When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good.”The key graf is this indictment of Mr. Trump.
Trump has been silent about the large number of racist and anti-Semitic hate crimes that have taken place since he took office. In a rambling and barely-coherent statement following the clashes in Charlottesville, Trump neglected to mention the murder of Heather Heyer. He condemned the violence on “many sides” and refused to condemn the white supremacists and fascists specifically.I hope SA provides us with a list of that "large number of racist and anti-Semitic hate crimes." Are there really more of them since Trump took office? And is Trump actually responsible even tangentially for any of them?
I think there was more racial animosity under the Obama administration than there is today.
Then I encourage everybody to listen to Mr. Trump's initial speech about Charlottesville, which SA ludicrously describes as "barely coherent." There is nothing wrong with that talk; it is completely unremarkable. The most egregious thing is CNN's headline describing it: "Donald Trump's incredibly unpresidential statement on Charlottesville."
I suppose one could criticize him for not mentioning Heather Heyer. In his defense I'm not sure the murder motive was definitively established when he gave this speech. Even so, it hardly indicates that he supports murdering people.
And why should he even mention the neo-Nazis? They worked hard nationally to build a "Unite the Right" rally, and all they can muster are 500 people! These people (mostly pretty dysfunctional) are a sideshow. They don't deserve their 15 minutes of fame--they don't even deserve five seconds. They certainly shouldn't get a call-out from the President of the United States.
Finally, SA tells us who the counter-protesters were:
Without warning, Fields drove his car into a column of marchers, killing Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. Among the injured were members of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and the IWW.This is a list of the folks who benefit most from building up the neo-Nazis--you need fascists before a party of anti-fascists makes any sense. These groups are hardly more representative of Americans than the Rightists. Trump was quite right when he says there is blame on both sides.
The Militant (representing the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)) also thinks Charlottesville is mostly about Trump, but from a completely different perspective. In their view Trump is merely a passive bystander, or perhaps even a victim of the tumult.
At the same time, the liberal capitalist media, Democratic and some Republican party politicians, and the middle-class left used the ultrarightist actions and resulting deadly violence to blame President Donald Trump — and especially the workers who elected him — for what happened. They view everything in politics today through the lens of how to get Trump indicted or impeached.
They claimed that the white supremacists are Trump’s “base,” slandering the working class, particularly workers who are Caucasian, as backward, racist and reactionary.The Militant provides an extended blow-by-blow of how the Charlottesville events transpired, which I found useful. That information is not readily available in the mainstream media. The article is worth reading just for that.
The main political message is that Trump is leading a working-class movement. That's not to say that Trump himself is pro-worker (he isn't), but only that his message has resonated with a broad slice of today's proletariat. They essentially echo Michael Moore's famous rant, here.
The SWP's goal, therefore, is to steer this legitimate working-class movement in a revolutionary direction before Trump manages to betray and demoralize it. That's likely a pipedream, but it at least enables them to be more or less truthful about Charlottesville.
Opponents of this strategy, which certainly includes Socialist Action, are in the uncomfortable position of writing off 40% of the American electorate as racist and fascist. The Militant quotes the Workers World Party.
“Media manipulation and financial maneuvering by a significant far-rightwing section of the billionaire class to get one of their own into the White House,” they said in a public statement, “has emboldened the most racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, misogynist, male supremacist, murderous scum of this decaying capitalist society.”The Militant goes on to say (truthfully) that "it’s simply not true that there is a rise in racism or anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiment among the working class in the U.S."
A revolutionary who writes off a major part of the working class in such terms has become, in The Militant's view, allied with the class enemy. Or at least a useful idiot.
So we have three very different points of view coming from the Trotskyist movement (broadly defined). 1) Trump is unimportant and should be ignored. Antifa is evil. 2) Trump is shilling for fascists and needs to be soundly defeated (albeit by different tactics than Antifa). Trump's followers are themselves either fascists or very stupid people. And 3) Trump is leading a working-class movement, and while he's a false prophet, the people supporting him have legitimate grievances and deserve to be protected (from Antifa and the mainstream media).
I don't fully agree with any of those options, but it is notable that there's more diversity of opinion among Trotskyists than there is in the mainstream media.